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It was a lucrative trade for clubs and pubs on the north side of the river as well as the Melbourne bus companies that Fruit Machines Pokie Rapunzel punters, mainly pensioners, lured by the chance of a small fortune.

It's been 20 years since poker machines were introduced into Victoria, so what has been the true cost on the community? Huon Hooke, Fairfax wine correspondent, talks about one of Australia's favourite white wine varieties - Chardonnay. The Harvey Weinstein scandal has triggered an avalanche of outrage that won't stop any time soon. The Financial Review is launching a new homepage - this is what it will look like, and this is how it will interact with all your devices. Geoff Woodrow has lived with Motor Neurone Disease for 10 years.

There are now almost 25, machines across the state - not including those at Crown Casino - turning some pub owners into pokie kings and ending the busloads of gold heading to NSW.

By submitting your email you are agreeing to Fairfax Media's terms and conditions and privacy policy. Not only has the number of machines increased from the modest beginning inthe ''productivity'' of machines has also Pokies Winner Food Products through better positioning, with targeted suburbs and more sophisticated machines able to take money quicker.

The state is also a big winner. Government addiction to that revenue stream has deepened since the early '90s. A former top government finance figure said poker machine revenue made up about 3 per cent of the government's total budget and the only way it could be replaced was to increase the state's GST take by the same amount. He said the poker machine revenue was critical for state finances. The government is not the only one counting its pokies winnings.

The AFL has been in the pokies game from the beginning.

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As the machines were being rushed into a cash-strapped Victoria in the s, then AFL chief commissioner Ross Oakley predicted there would be benefits for football, with the gambling cash used to keep ticket prices down. Football chiefs now say poker machine revenue is critical to their operations, with millions flowing in.

North Melbourne, one of Victoria's poorest AFL clubs, is the only one that does not have poker machines. In Aprilthen Hawthorn president and former state premier Jeff Kennett warned that proposed federal laws to curb punters' losses would kill some of the AFL's poorer clubs because of the drop in revenue and the cost of installing new technology.

Essendon Football Club chief executive Ian Robson said gaming was a critical source of income for community projects and the Bombers' football department.

Essendon's two pokies venues and other venues last year were able to avoid paying 8 per cent in tax by claiming poker machine expenditure is re-invested in the community.

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But the clubs have been heavily criticised for claiming operating costs, infrastructure such as televisions and even club mascots, as ''community benefits''.

Collingwood says its poker machine venues are an integral part of its financial future, and Carlton will this year become one of the biggest operators of poker machines of all the AFL clubs after pokies kingpin and Carlton powerbroker Bruce Mathieson delivered them more machines and venues.

He shares his ALH poker machine business with Woolworths, which is the single biggest pokies operator in Australia with 11, machines, in Victoria.

Other big poker winners have included Tabcorp and Tattersall's, which have operated the machines for 20 years and will hand them over to clubs and pubs next month. The company said the division had been one of its principal business units.

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Research has linked poker machines to increases in crime, mental health problems and high levels of problem gambling. Peter Thiry said he warned Victoria about poker machines more than 20 years ago. Unlike NSW, where pokies had been around sinceVictorians were not used to them, he told the Murray Wilcox inquiry into poker machines in In NSW, machine proliferation was incremental, but in Victoria people quickly gained easy access to pokies. Thiry was not the only one to issue a warning. The Wilcox inquiry recommended against introducing poker machines to Victoria.

The last premier to say no to the pokies lobby, John Cain, told The Saturday Age this week the introduction of the machines had been to the ''detriment'' of the state, characterised by ''a greedy industry exploitative of the low-income earners, the vulnerable and the addicted''.

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He said that within three weeks of his resignation in August the pokies barbarians ''weren't just belting on the door, they were through the door and they were in the lounge room pissing on the furniture''. In the early '90s, the push for pokies was a popular one, with a Sunday Age poll at the time finding two out of three people were in favour of poker machines - 63 per cent also favoured casinos for Victoria. The same year a poll of 12, footy fans conducted by The Sun newspaper found that 90 per cent favoured pokies in Victoria.

Footy's biggest stars at the time, Tony Lockett, John Platten, Stephen Silvagni and Robert DiPierdomenico, all spruiked the ease of winning on faux pokies introduced in Victoria in the lead-up to the arrival of real machines.

Joan Kirner told The Saturday Age this week the government needed the money from poker machines in the s to maintain services and community infrastructure. I acknowledged there would be difficulties as well and that is why part of the community support fund is for anti-gambling advocacy. Victoria's first female premier recalled Jeff Kennett standing on the steps of Crown Casino with Crown chairman Lloyd Williams and declaring ''This is the new spirit of Victoria''.

I meant it to be a supplement and an opportunity for clubs to benefit,'' Kirner says. On the other hand, try to picture Victoria without the social infrastructure, particularly with footy clubs that it has provided. Anti-pokies campaigner Tim Costello says he feels like he has ''lived'' every one of the past 20 years since the pokies were introduced and remembers when The Pokies Winner Food Products editorialised that the state did not need wowsers like him.

In a book he co-wrote on gambling, he labelled the poker machine industry the ''reverse Robin Hood''. WHILE state governments collect billions in pokies revenue, Pokies Aus Country Abbreviation federal government receives no money and is uniquely placed to regulate an industry that is harming many people. Poker machine reform was thrust onto the federal agenda after the election, when Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie landed a key vote in the hung Parliament and struck a deal with Prime Minister Julia Gillard to introduce a system where gamblers must set limits before they begin playing.

The clubs industry waged a multimillion-dollar war against the proposal, saying it would slash clubs' revenue, which would in turn hurt communities. Gillard reneged on her deal in January this year after securing an extra vote with Liberal turncoat Peter Slipper's defection to become Speaker.

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The government is now pursuing a plan that would force all new machines from to have pre-commitment technology, but it would be voluntary. A trial of compulsory pre-commitment will also be held in the ACT. If the trial is successful, a future govern- ment would be able to make manda- tory pre-commitment national law.

Wilkie says the bill introducing the trial pre-commitment system is weak but will back it because he believes some reform is better than nothing. The legislation is yet to be voted on because the government lacks the numbers to pass it.

The Coalition, seeing yet another opportunity to wedge the government, is not backing the bill, despite supporting a voluntary system. It has set up a team to assess options to reduce problem gambling.

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The Greens are also proving a stumbling block as they say the bill will do nothing to help curb problem gambling and will set back reform. Wilkie has warned all parties that time is running out. With the exception of WA, states and territory governments have shown they cannot be trusted to effectively regulate poker machines so it is up to the federal government to step in,'' he says. He says the cost is too great to do nothing about poker machines. Home News Victoria News.

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This Monday marks 20 years since the first Victorian venues began operating poker machines. Movies make casino cheaters seem like modern-day Robin Hoods, but don't be fooled. Regulatory agencies toss around jail sentences faster than mob goons. Rubbish food at Red Shed “On 29 November , I went to the Faith Works/Influencers Church Op shop. The free fruit and vegetables were limited to a few greenish.

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